Dr. Shanaz R. Butt
The Holy Quran emphasizes that man and the universe were not created in sport or without a purpose (21:17). What then is the purpose of the creation of mankind? The Holy Quran says:
You are the best people created for the good of mankind. (3:111)
This verse claims that Muslims are the best people and have been raised for the good of others. This verse tells Muslims to uphold the bright torch of Islam for the whole world and to contribute towards the betterment of all people. Therefore, if as Muslims, we have been raised to serve mankind, we have to be the people from whom goodness flows towards the less fortunate.
Service to mankind is the essence of Islam. What are the fundamental qualities that are needed in order to acquire a passion to serve mankind? We need to have love for humanity, kindness in our hearts for others, a charitable disposition, humility, honesty, a thirst for knowledge and when acquired, a desire to share it, and a constant desire to strive in the cause of Allah by doing good and avoiding that which is bad. This cannot happen by mere lip-service or self-service. This cannot happen if we are self-seekers. This can happen only if we are God-seekers and if we practise righteousness in our daily living!
We have been blessed with the complete and perfect teachings of the Holy Quran and we have been blessed with the best example that walked the face of the earth. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) practised the teachings in the Holy Quran to the fullest extent and is the best example of the true representation of service to mankind and to Allah. Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:
For you there is a noble example in the Prophet of God. (33:22)
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had but two missions: One was to serve Allah and the other was to serve mankind. It was through his service to mankind that the Holy Prophet served Allah. No other human being has left an impression so deep and so permanent as has Muhammad Mustapha (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). We cannot fail to appreciate his nobility. Someone inquired of Hadhrat Ayesha (may God be pleased with her) about his character. She answered very simply that His character was the Holy Quran. No wonder then that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is presented in the Holy Quran as a perfect model for the whole of f mankind for all time to come.
Almighty Allah has blessed all of us with many positive qualities and talents which can be utilized to serve other people. There are so many countless ways in which we can be of service to others.
The Holy Quran says:
And do not forget to do good to one another. (2:238)
The best example of kindness is that of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). His kindness was limitless and without any discrimination. Once on shaking hands with a labourer, he realized that his hands were rough and calloused form the hard work. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) took the hands in his own and massaged them gently repeating several times: These hands are very dear to Allah. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) showed appreciation to his fellow beings. He said:
One who is not grateful to mankind is not grateful to Allah. (Tirmidhi)
The Promised Messiah (peace be upon him) had great compassion for mankind. Love of humanity and forgiveness were two of his major characteristics. He wrote:
I look upon no one as an enemy. I have the same love for all mankind as a mother has for her children. I am only an enemy of false beliefs and untruths. Sympathy for all is a moral obligation and a duty. (Arbaeen)
That religion is no religion that does not inculcate sympathy, nor does that man deserve to be called a man who does not have sympathy in him. (Message of peace)
Thus one of the most important ingredients needed in our recipe to serve others is to have love and sympathy in our hearts for others. The Promised Messiah (peace be upon him) also wrote:
If you are an elder, be kind to the younger ones and do not belittle them. If you are rich, serve the poor but do not treat them with pride and disdain. If you wish God to be pleased with you, then be like two brothers born of one mother. (Kashti Nooh)
If we reflect upon the teachings of the Promised Messiah (peace be upon him), and if we really have love in our hearts for others, then we should desire for them the same good things we desire for ourselves. The Holy Quran says:
And whatever good you do, surely Allah knows it well. (4:128)
This means that no act of kindness or charity goes undetected in the sight of Allah. Charity is incumbent upon every Muslim. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was once asked: If a person should have nothing? He answered:
He should work with his hands to his own benefit and also give alms. If he is not able to work? He should help a needy one. If he lacks that also? He should restrain himself from doing evil. That too is charity. (Bukhari and Muslim).
We all need to learn that charity begins at home and therefore for many of us or rather for all of us, our passion for service must begin at home. Looking after the needs of our parents and treating them with love and respect is an excellent example of service. Once a man came to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and asked his permission to join an expedition. Are your parents alive? inquired the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Yes replied the man. Then go and look after them, that is striving enough for you. (Bukhari and Muslim)
What about the upbringing of our children? As a mother we are faced with a very big responsibility. One of the biggest contributions we can make to Islam, to our society and to the future of our Community is to pay special attention to their upbringing. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has said: It is better to attend to the upbringing of your child than to bestow a measure of corn in charity.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has said: It is the duty of every Muslim man and woman to seek knowledge. The Holy Prophet also said: The best charity on he part of a Muslim is to acquire knowledge and to impart it to others. In fact, Islam has laid so much stress on the pursuit of knowledge that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself was taught this prayer by Allah:
Lord, grant me increase in knowledge. (20:115)
Knowledge has no boundaries and no limits. The more one learns, the more one seeks to increase it. When one embarks upon a project and begins to read about that subject, one finds that a new way of thinking and a new way of tackling the problem results form that knowledge. Even when we read about subjects that we may think we already know, we can always gain new insights and feel more enlightened.
At the death of the Promised Messiah (peace be upon him) in 1908, the second Khalifa (may God be pleased with him) was only nineteen years old. On that occasion he pledged to serve Islam and vowed: Even if all the people abandon the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) I will stand alone to face the whole world and not care for opposition or enemies. This is called passion! He remained true to his pledge. Many achievements go to his credit. Many schemes for the community were developed by him. In addition, he has written exhaustive commentaries on the Holy Quran and in this way has rendered invaluable service to the members of the Community and to new members. He has also given thousands of speeches and sermons and introduced the world to the Islamic concepts based on Quranic principles. In 1954, when all Muslim sects were striving to prove Ahmadis to be non-Muslims, the Ahmadis presented translations of the Quran to presidents of different countries and to Justice Munir of Pakistan. Art a time when the world was trying to declare them to be non-Muslims, this was the way of the Second Khalifa (may God be pleased with him) to proclaim to the whole world that those whom you are trying to call non-Muslims are the ones who are introducing the Holy Quran to others in their own mother-tongues! This is called service!
Our present Khalifatul Masih IV (may God strengthen his hands), has been stressing on another way to serve mankind and that is by inviting people to the path of Allah. How does one do that? In order to invite people to Allah, you yourself have to be a God-fearing person. If a potentially new member begins to reflect upon the finer and deeper qualities of Ahmadiyyat (the true Islam) and is then exposed to members who exhibit falsehood, deceit and hypocrisy as routine behaviour, then what will be the resulting mental state of this new member? This new member will be left confused, disillusioned, disappointed and heart-broken. On the other hand, if the new member observes that we are living a life of consistency, of honesty and kindness, then trust and respect will develop. And once we have pulled someone towards us by our righteous behaviour, then like a magnetic force, we have pulled them towards Allah. We cannot give what we do not possess! By practising righteousness in our daily living, we can all become become very successful preachers. What better way to serve mankind than to live a righteous life? In the U.S.A. which has such a large population of rich and wealthy people, there are thousands in need. Loneliness, isolation, disrespect for elders, drug abuse, child abuse, social discriminations, psychological problems, immorality – these are all part and parcel of this so-called ‘affluent’ society. Therefore, there is much need for a kind word, a charitable act, guidance, imparting of knowledge and serving as exemplary models in the very society in which we live.
Passion for service is blind to colour, status, and age. Young and old can have this passion for service. There are many elder members who have retired physically but have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be shared and the Community would benefit from their service. As far as the new members are concerned, by serving in the cause of Islam, a new awareness develops, and if one works with sincere intentions, then the journey of spiritual progress begins with this passion for service. The Holy Quran has stated:
Be competitive in doing good. (2:149)
We must, therefore, try to raise our standard of work and service to the highest level of perfection. We must try to excel one another in our passion to serve humanity. However, let us not become so carried away with our competitiveness that we forget the true basis behind our intentions to do service, and the end-result becomes an intention of show, self-service and disservice to others.
Last year, in June, 1991, when Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV was addressing the Canadian Community he explained how Ahmadis who have migrated to Canada could be of service to Canada. He said: We should all strive to be contribution oriented and not demand oriented. Therefore we must think how we can be of service to others and how we can dedicate ourselves in the service of Islam; not of what we can get in return.
No work of ours can be blessed without the benefit of our prayers. We must pray with deep feelings and good intentions. We must pray that Allah may inspire us to offer ourselves so that upto our last breath we may have the opportunity to serve Islam. After all, which of us would like to met Almighty Allah on the day of Judgment if we have not led a useful life. Let us pray that Allah blesses our thoughts and our actions, and blesses the fruit that results from our passion for service. – Amen.
All Praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds
Review of Religions
No. 1 Vol. LXXXVIII